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Full text of "Flora Indica Vol-I"

Berberi*.]                             BXOBA INDICA.                                    217

sperma, seminibus erefctis. Embryo majusculus. -Pxutices tigwflaw>
foliis jpinnatis v. suppression* jnnnaruti fateralium,1 aimplicibus, folioli^
stipulisque sape in spirias abeuntikut*

Berberis, including Mahonia, is a perfectly natural and ^ell-defined genus, whose
species, however, are so singularly sportive in habit and all characters, that it is im-
possible to form any accurate estimate of its extent. One hundred have been enume-
rated, which number may no doubt.be reduced by one-half. Both botanical auiJiDrs
and horticulturists have long been aware of the extreme difficulty of limiting the
species of this genus. Of its sportive character the European B. mdgan& is a good
example, upon which we are the more anxious to dwell, both because this plant occurs
in its normal English form, and in many abnormal states i$ the Himalaya, and be-
cause it is of the utmost advantage to us, who press upon the attention of our fellow-
botanists an amount of variation in mountain and tropical plants which they are
slow to believe* to have sfteh an example of variation in Europe to quote. With the
B. vulgaris, in its -ordinary north of Europe form, most 'botanists are familiar; but
this is so unlike the Mediterranean forms, that two were described as different, one
by Linnseus and Sibthorp, under" the name of B. Gretica, ancl another by Rcemerand
Schultes as B. JEtnensis, species that are now considered, by some of even the most
critical European botanists (Boissier and Cosson and Gussoue), aa forms of B. vul-
ffaris; and it is this prominent fact to which we desire to draw attention at the out-
set, that none of the Himalayan forms we here reduce to B. vufyaris differ more from
the typical state of that plant than do B. JBtnensi* and B. Cretica. The B. cratas-
ffina, DC., of Asia Minor, and, B. emarginatat Wflld., of Siberia, appear to us to
have still less claims to specific distinction than .JEtnetuif and Crettca, and indeed
they have been reduced' 'by some authors already; and if to these be added the B.
Canadensis of North America,- the geographical range 'of the species will then be
from Siberia westward to the lakes of Canada.
In the Himalaya Dr. Wallich distinguished nine species, all differing widely in
general appearance from one another, and from B. vtrfgaris; many of them also in
specific characters. To these (three of which arc founded on error) others have been
added, which, being found further west than Dr. 'Wallich's species, approached nearer
to the European types, without, however, so resembling the common state, of B.
vulgaris as to suggest a comparison with any of the varieties of that plant which
inhabit a similar climate ; these were consequently described as new.
The first impression conveyed by reviewing the whole Himalayan genus, by laying
out our very large suites of specimens collected with a view to show variations, was
the strong resemblance between the West Himalayan deciduous-leaved forms and the
European B. vulganst amounting, in Kashmir and Kishtwar specimens, to absolute
identity ; and that, proceeding eastwards and southwards, the more coriaceous-leaved
species prevailed, and soon replaced the others, in the form of B. aritt&ta and its
varieties ; that in Tibet and in the drier regions of the lofty Himalayan valleys, we
everywhere found small, stunted, excessively spinous species, with small, extremely
coriaceous leaves, and racemes often reduced to umbels, and even to axillary single-
flowered pedicels ; and that, descending lower in the same valleys and to the foot of
the hills along the wfcole length of the Himalaya, many of these appeared to pass
by insensible gradations into the large-leaved bushy form of aristata, with coria-
ceous foliage. It is very true, .thai, both in the dry lofty regions and in the lower
humid valleys, we could distinguish 'several well marked forms and species, often
growing side by side ; but the specimens from intermediate elevations, of interme-
diate temperature and humidity, appeared to combine all these into an inextricable
plexus of species or forms that admitted of no absolute characters ; and the more com-
plete and extensive our materials, the more did the species bleud.
Tf from our collections we turn to the labours of others, wo find that they
have terminated in an equally unsatisfactory mauxier. So long as botanists had few
specimens, these were easily divided into species^ -but the characters attributed to
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